Independent challengers spruik their influence on government policy as a sign of the benefits they bring.
Many haven’t been elected yet – and they may never be – but a field of independents is already taking credit for a more progressive agenda emerging ahead of the New South Wales election.
“The benefits are really clear,” says Jacqui Scruby, a “teal” candidate for the seat of Pittwater.
“The indirect [effect] is driving the conversation – putting policies on the agenda that the major parties won’t touch, and forcing them to address those issues.”
So far this campaign, existing independent MPs and others vying to join them on the crossbench come 25 March have show signs of significant influence.
After banding together to propose a bill to ban Pep-11, the government announced it would introduce its own.
Campaigns led by powerful Sydney MP Alex Greenwich have contributed to bipartisan support of a future ban on so-called gay conversion practices and the promise of a cashless poker machine card from the coalition.
And there has been a slew of policies focused on women’s safety and economic empowerment that advocacy groups say is unlike anything they’ve seen before.
“That’s the beauty of independent, issues-based politics,” says Scruby, as she attempts to beat local councillor and Liberal candidate Rory Amon, who is seeking replace outgoing minister Rob Stokes in the northern Sydney seat.
Scruby is one of five Climate 200-backed candidates vying for seats the independent funding machine deems winnable.
Climate 200’s executive director, Byron Fay, cites the government’s commitment to reduce emissions by 70% by 2035, ban offshore oil and gas drilling in NSW waters and make the state’s pokies cashless by 2028 as proof independents have had “an enormous impact”.
“If this is what these community independents can achieve just by putting their hands up, what’s possible if they actually get elected?” he says.